posted by Kevin Cain
You’re probably aware of the meteoric rise of eBooks thanks to the Kindle and other eReaders. But did you know that another revolution has been quietly taking the publishing world by storm? Audiobooks aren’t a new phenomenon, but in recent years their global revenue has skyrocketed thanks to the introduction of new technologies such as apps.
In fact, sales of audiobooks almost doubled between 2009 and 2015, with the number of titles published in the US growing from about 4,600 to more than 35,500 during that time. Driving much of that growth is Audible, the biggest audio book producer and retailer in the United States. The company now has over 200,000 audiobooks available to download and its sales have been growing by 20 percent year over year. Not only that, almost a quarter of Americans say they’ve completed an audiobook in the last year, and 57 percent of them did so using its secret weapon: the Audible app.
Audible's catchphrase is "when you can't read, listen." And people love the being able to listen on the go so that they can multitask and consume more books. In fact, research shows that the majority of audiobook listening is done at home (57 percent), followed by in the car (32 percent). Frequent listeners tend to do housework while listening to audiobooks, as well as activities as diverse as baking, exercise, and crafting. Audiobook listeners read or listened to an average of 15 books in the last year, and 77 percent of frequent listeners thought audiobook technology helped them finish more books.
But Audible isn’t so successful just because its wildly popular app makes listening to audiobooks easy. It also has advanced features that enhance book and information consumption. That’s undoubtedly one of the reasons why Amazon bought Audible for approximately $300 million back in 2008.
The Audible app provides spoken audio entertainment, information, and educational programs. It sells digital audiobooks, radio and TV programs, and audio versions of magazines and newspapers. From romance, thrillers, fantasy, and classic literature, to modern books, and language learning, its catalogue keeps on growing. Each audio file it sells is downloadable to tablets, smartphones, MP3 players, and Kindles.
The fact you can download an audible book in seconds is a given. But its other features are what set it apart. The user interface and experience are clean and intelligent, with intuitive design. While the sheer amount of listening and reading options available might seem intimidating to a new user, the ease at which they can navigate it means they get used to the full functionality quickly. That functionality includes:
Once you've downloaded the Audible app, you can choose playback settings, from one second to five minutes, and from chapter to chapter. You can choose to annotate bookmarks, select sleep mode and button-free mode for seamless performance, while variable narration speed lets you choose whether the material is ready slowly, quickly, or at a normal pace.
Amazon and Amazon Prime
Because Amazon owns Audible, you can easily login to Audible using your Amazon credentials. And, if you're an Amazon Prime member, you get free access to Audible Channels, which is a collection of audio versions of articles from publications including The New York Times, McSweeney's, The Harvard Business Review, and The Onion. It also includes 20 curated playlists on subjects such as comedy, meditation, and news, as well as a rotating selection of more than 50 audiobooks.
Whispersync for Voice
If you want to switch between reading and listening, you can use Amazon's Whispersync for Voice. If you have eBook and audiobook versions of a title, you can sync your place on both and change back and forth as you want to. So, for example, you can listen to a few chapters on the commute home, then pick up where you left off by reading on your kindle on the couch or in bed. You will have to buy both versions first, but there’s a discount that makes doing so attractive.
If you have a Kindle and a smartphone, you can also read and listen simultaneously. Immersion reading means you can hear the audiobook and read the highlighted text as you go. Audible says this will take you deeper into a book than either just reading or just listening.
Exclusive interviews and newsfeed
The Audible newsfeed gives you insider information about author events and more, while its exclusive content gives you access to author interviews that you can't get anywhere else.
It's easy to listen to an audiobook while you're driving. The new, simplified display makes it easy when your smartphone is plugged in, just by tapping the car icon on your player screen. Unfortunately, this functionality isn’t available on iPad...yet.
Stats and badges
If you're a fan of gamification and analytics, you can earn badges and record your listening habits. This feature tracks your listening information, including your listening time, listening level, and number of audiobooks in your library.
You can activate push notifications to let you know details about your account, news and announcements, or when new content is available.
If you’re a fan of sharing, you can create clips of your favorite passages to share with friends on social media, and share and gift any book in your library to people you know.
If you want to consume more books and either don’t have time to read or want to be able to multi-task while you do, audiobooks might be just the solution for you. The Audible app makes enjoying content fast and easy. To give it a try, download the app today.
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